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Energy transmission infrastructure in the field

Today’s Power Grid

Developing Today’s Power Grid

Most of the time, we don’t think about how electricity makes it to our homes and businesses. We just turn on our lights, cool our homes, power our smartphones and go about our day. But behind the light switch is a complex infrastructure of generation sources, transmission lines, substations and distribution lines.

First, electricity has to be generated at a power plant. Then it’s converted to high voltage current so it can travel more efficiently over miles of transmission line. Finally, it reaches our local utilities, where it’s stepped down to a lower voltage so it can be distributed over local power lines to homes, businesses and other facilities.

This system is governed at the federal, regional, state and local levels, overseeing everything from safety standards to rates and siting. It takes thousands of people working together to deliver your electricity—when and where you need it.

Transmission Matters

Transmission is a vital part of the electricity delivery cycle. Just as interstate highways give people power through freedom of movement, the transmission grid provides energy access and economic benefits to markets, communities and homes across the country.

An interstate transmission system extends every region’s access to electricity supply. And, like the freeway system, interstate transmission provides access and economic benefits to people close to generation sources, or hundreds of miles away.

The transmission grid also provides stability to the system by supporting a variety of “on and off” ramps that keep the energy flowing when there’s congestion (a traffic jam) or unplanned weather or a security event (a road closure).

Transmission is key to unlocking our energy future.

What’s Needed

We need transmission to connect our country to renewable energy; improve electric reliability and system resiliency; and achieve widespread building and vehicle electrification. Given the 7-10 (or more) years, it takes to plan, permit and build major transmission line projects, our industry is already behind.

There are three areas that need to be addressed:

  • We must strengthen our aging transmission system to combat both natural and man-made threats.
  • We can only meet our carbon reduction goals by expanding our transmission system.
  • We need an updated transmission system to create an electrified, green economy.
Linda Apsey Sentate Testimony

We Need Policy That Supports Transmission Development

  • A recent Concentric study found that completed and active competitive transmission projects awarded to non-incumbent developers experienced an average of 12 months in schedule delays and 27% in cost increases, contrary to promises made by competitive developers in winning bids.

We Need to Change the Way We Plan for Transmission

  • Planning needs to be broad and integrated.
  • Planning needs to consider broad benefits as a first step to solving the cost allocation issue.
  • Truly effective interregional planning requires coordination not just across but between regional transmission organizations (RTOs).
  • Customers benefit most when utilities cooperate to find solutions beyond their own service territories.

We Need to Recognize That Transmission Is the Right Tool

  • Transmission lowers costs for customers by allowing access to less expensive generation
  • Transmission accomplishes a specific objective—moving bulk electricity from one place to another and doing it cost-effectively.
  • As storage becomes more economical it will have a more active role and will complement—not replace—transmission.

We Must Act Now to Achieve Our Nation’s Energy Vision

  • We need everyone—state officials, customers, stakeholders, generators—to engage to drive results at the federal and RTO level
  • We need to ensure any federal legislation adopted addresses the key needs to promote—not discourage—transmission investment.
  • We need to act now. Let’s get to work today to build a transmission that connects us to a brighter energy future.